Change of Regime in West Bengal: A mystification of Change!

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Quite a significant part of the various sectors of the population in this part of India i.e. West Bengal, seems to be agog with the possibility of change. They are celebrating the decisive electoral defeat of the ruling leftist combine and the landslide victory of the rightist combine. Some are excited simply by the thought and fact that the Stalinist ruling combine has at last been ousted from governmental power. People were so much disgusted with the unlimited arrogance and corruption of almost everyone linked in one way or other with the ruling Stalinist clique. Some people said openly, “we don’t bother about what is going to happen in the coming period. We bother only about ousting the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from governmental power. They are unbearable.” Thus this instant jubilation of this part of the masses of people including the working class and the exploited sectors is quite understandable. These people seem to be relishing a profound sense of relief.

Almost the whole media, print as well as electronic, is leaving no stone unturned in propagating and strengthening the notion of change. They are depicting the CPI (M) as the most notorious villain of the whole episode, the embodiment of everything negative, the root of all evils. On the other hand the victorious rightists combine and particularly its supreme leader is being presented as the symbol of honesty and heroism. They are also never tired of singing paeans of praise for the unlimited power of democracy and particularly that of the purity and maturity of Indian democracy. Quite a significant part of the population seems to be swallowing with relish all such materials circulated by the press in this context. It seems to be working overtime to bring home this point to everyone. The new ruling alliance is  not only enacting scenes of high dramatic populism to show that it is fundamentally different from the previous regime, on every occasion, almost every day, but also seems to be enjoying it wholeheartedly. The bourgeoisie seems to have been quite successful at least temporarily in the task of mystification.

But it has failed to mystify and befool each and everyone. A significant part of the population has not at all been moved by this propaganda of change. A lot of young people who have been eligible to vote for the first time have refused to cast their votes according to some reliable survey reports.

It is urgently necessary to pause for a while to reflect on the real form and content of the change and stop being swept over simply by the dreamy idea of it.

We cannot but point out that whatever the hype about the virtue and power of democracy, this particular election has shown very clearly the dying condition of democracy. Without the direct protection and prop of the bureaucratic military machine it is absolutely unable to stand steadily and function. In its youthful phase of life in the nineteenth century, capitalism had the upper hand and full control of the bureaucratic military machine. But now in its phase of senility it is under the full control and protection of the latter. What a great fall! The centre of gravity of capitalist power is not in the parliament now; it has shifted more and more to the permanent bureaucratic, military and judicial machinery. Various sectors of the bourgeois think tanks are lamenting over this inevitable transformation and degeneration of democracy.

In this context it should be mentioned that democracy, including the purest, oldest and the maturest varieties, is based on three things. These are use of money, muscle and mystification power. In the backward countries like India the use of money and muscle power is predominant. In addition to this, the power of mystification of the working class and toiling masses plays also a very important role. Every political party and leader participating in the electoral battle resorts to random lying and mystification. It is something like a competition in lying. Those who are able to make the people believe the lies as truth are victorious in the electoral game. In the more advanced countries the use of the power of mystification is very much predominant. Nevertheless, in these days accusations of intimidation of the electorate are also being made even in the USA.

Illusion and reality of change

The now ousted leftist combine came to governmental power after a landslide electoral victory way back in 1977 dealing a crushing defeat to the Congress, the rightist ruling party of that time. The leftist combine then claimed to be most determined crusader against the repressive methods and all-out corruption of the then ruling party. They clamored for change and economic development. They pledged to work for the defense of the interest of the working class and the exploited strata of society. They asked their cadres not to be revengeful against those of the previous ruling party who terrorized them and drove them out of their houses and compelled them to flee away. People then, like now, were disgusted with the extreme arrogance, corruption and terrorizing methods of, and the terrorized environment created by, the goons sheltered and used by the Congress party. Then, like now, they were eager for the change of the unbearable, suffocating social atmosphere. They thought and took the election as a means to oust the Congress party and bring the leftist combine to governmental power. Then also there was much hype about the wave of change sweeping over various parts of India. But it did not take much time for the cloud of illusion to be gradually dispersed and the actual reality of the then new leftist regime to be more and more exposed. The protagonists and defenders of that regime gradually began to resort more and more to the same repressive methods and drowned deeper and deeper into the same sea of corruption. They played not only an active but also leading role in the massacre of the masses of peasantry and killing of the working class struggling against the attacks on their living and working conditions in various parts of west Bengal. All such movements have been severely repressed not only by the official police force but also by the unofficial regiment of hired goons. Socio--economic problems, particularly the living and working conditions of the working class and various sectors of the toiling masses of people, began to worsen with each passing day. The problem of unemployment also has worsened.

Today’s victorious parties are very vocal against the all-out corruption and the repressive methods of the crushingly defeated leftist combine. They have claimed themselves to be the vanguard of change. Their most important slogan is “change not revenge” and economic development. They are also pledging to work for the interest of the poor.

But these very parties are the offspring of the Congress party which resorted to repressive methods since the transfer of political power to it by the British in 1947, and particularly in the early seventies. People were afraid of even casting their votes according to will. The members of the Congress party then were the vanguard of the biggest massacre of the sympathizers of the Maoist movement in 1971 in the heart of Calcutta. The state machinery was brazenly used for this massacre by the then Congress chief minister. Lots of leaders, young militants and supporters of the Maoist movement were then killed just after arrest even without the farce of any trial. Many were killed in fake clashes. The houses of lots of poor and landless peasants in various parts of west Bengal who supported the Maoist movement were demolished forcibly by the goons of the then Congress party. Lots of people fled away from their residential places out of fear.

Quite a significant portion of the leaders who were directly involved in those killings and massacre are still leaders of the now victorious rightist combine. But the massacre of the common people struggling for their various demands against a government which has been resorting to more and more repressive methods and all sorts of corruption at all levels has  given a good opportunity to those rightist leaders to wipe out the accumulated blemish and polish their political image to a great extent. This may be repeated in course of time in the case of the severely disgraced and humiliated leftists in the opposition now. After some period of time it is quite likely in the present national and international situation that the new ruling combine will be compelled to resort similar repressive measures with one excuse or other against the inevitable movements of the working class, various sections of the peasantry and the unemployed. It may even surpass all past limits. This is likely to provide the necessary conditions to the disgraced leftists of today to wipe out the thick blemish and polish their political image. In this way the left and the right of capital will help each other and keep capital alive.

The working class and bourgeois democracy

According to the thoughts of Marx and Lenin also, the working class and toiling, exploited masses of people are given the right every four or five or six years to choose by whom they would like to be exploited and repressed in the next five years. So whoever wins it is basically the same for the working class and exploited people. History has proved the validity of this assertion again and again. There can not be any end to the exploitation and repression of the working class by the change of the ruling team or party. The political management of the capitalist socio-economic and political system is only changed through the election. The real dictatorship of the capitalist system remains unchanged and intact. Again according to the concepts of Marx democracy is the best form of bourgeois dictatorship. This dictatorship lies hidden in the relation of production of capital based on exploitation and repression of the working class and toiling masses of people. This relation has nowhere and never been determined by democratic methods. Factories are nowhere run by the democratic method. All aspects of production including prices are not determined democratically.

The bureaucratic military machine, the permanent, most important and strongest pillar of the state, the sole weapon for carrying out exploitation and repression, remains the same. The “parasitic excrescence on the social body” will not only remain intact but it will be much more swollen in the coming period. That means nothing but further intensification of the exploitation of the working class and toiling people in the coming period. This can never be lessened in a single country or part of a country.

There is no fundamental difference between the leftist and rightist political apparatus so far as the defense of the interest of capital is concerned. And for this the leftist political apparatus of capital is indispensable, particularly in this historical phase in the life of global capital when it has been transformed into the biggest obstacle in the way of further progress of humanity and proletarian revolution is so urgently needed. Not only that, the present advanced phase of senility and decadence of the capitalist system will lead humanity gradually towards total destruction if there is absence of world proletarian revolution. This only can destroy capitalism and save humanity. In such a situation the leftist apparatus including each and every Stalinist, Trotskyite or Maoist variety without any exception has been and will be the sole savior of the global capitalist system.

The world bourgeoisie has realized very clearly and profoundly that the leftist political apparatus is indispensable to it in this historical period of unlimited barbarism, where the historic choice is between total destruction of humanity or world proletarian revolution opening the door for the creation of a borderless world communist society free from any sort of exploitation and repression. They can point to the Stalinist and Maoist regimes and the ruling ‘communist parties’ to discredit and attack the perspective of communism. They know very well that if this is grasped by the masses of working class their existence will be fatally endangered. They needed and still need the ‘socialist states’ very urgently only to discredit scientific socialism which for the world working class and toiling people had and still has a great attraction. Their sole aim is to deal a fatal blow to this attraction. In this reactionary task for the defense and prolongation of the life of the totally anachronistic and historically needless capitalist system, the leftist political apparatus is absolutely indispensable. With this end in view they openly abuse the Stalinists, Maoists and Trotskyites in a very calculated way so that the latter can present themselves as the true defenders of the interest of the masses of the population against the attacks of the bourgeois state and thus can derail their struggle for liberation from all sorts of exploitation and repression.

Individual goodwill vs material conditions      

The course of history has not been determined by the goodwill or not of this or that individual, male or female or group or political party at the helm of affairs. It has been determined by the material conditions of the predominant relation of production in a particular historical phase and the conditions of class struggle in that phase. The latter has been the determining factor in the political goodwill or lack of it or its change.

Whatever tall promises are made in the time of election propaganda, whatever goodwill for the masses of people are shown in words, the new government will have to serve the interest of the capitalist system in West Bengal. It may shout aloud that its only aim is to serve the interest of humanity (Manush) as a whole. The victorious rightist combine never tires of asserting that their victory is the victory of mankind (Manush), undifferentiated and classless. But can the interest of capital and that of humanity as a whole and particularly that of the working class and exploited masses of people be the same and defended simultaneously, particularly in this historic phase?

The global capitalist system entered its   phase of senility or decadence since the beginning of the last century. The First World War was the definitive proof of this. Since then it is passing through permanent crisis which was expressed in the outbreak of the great depression of 1929. This led to the breaking out of the Second World War. This was suppressed to some extent after the war in the new international imperialist configuration of the division of the world into two imperialist blocks led by two victorious superpowers, US and USSR. The crisis raised its head again in the end sixties putting an end to the so-called glorious thirty years. Since then the crisis has been intensifying more and more with the passage of time as the relative saturation of the world market gets deepened. In such an international situation the only condition for the existence of capital is more exploitation and repression of the working class and toiling masses. The more any government of any capitalist state will be able to ensure this the brighter will be the possibility of continued existence of the historically needless capitalist system at least in that state. The task of any leftist or rightist government is to ensure this. The task of the new government in west Bengal can never be otherwise. Whatever its good will, real or fake, it will be compelled by the evolution of material conditions of global capital and class struggle to further intensify exploitation and repression of the working class and toiling masses and resort to more fascist methods. Attacks on the living and working conditions of the working class cannot but be further intensified in the coming period. There is little hope for any resolution of the problem of unemployment. This is likely to worsen in the days ahead. There is every possibility that the roles of the political parties and alliances will be interchanged. The right in government will demonstrate their true colors in reality and the left in opposition will also show their original colors. They will leave no stone unturned to present themselves as the true defenders of the working class and toiling people and thus try their best to derail their class struggle from the class terrain and the process of coming to consciousness. There is fundamental unity between the left and right of capital so far as the cause of the defense of basic interest of capital is concerned. There is of course a difference—that of methods.

Task of the working class

The working class should not be swept away by the hype, hysteria and illusion of change. They should not take sides in the dogfight between the rightist and leftist political apparatus of capital for capturing the covetable post of top political management of the affairs of capital. Both are the sworn enemies of the working class.

It should rather focus its whole attention on the intensification of its class struggle against each and every attack of capital on its living and working conditions, developing the self-organization and control of the struggle, its extension to all sectors and its unification. Constant collective struggle against all sorts of mystification by the left and right of capital and for coming to proletarian consciousness is indispensable. This is the only way to resist the attacks and defend its class interest.

Saki 16/7/11        


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West Bengal Elections